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Ways of Teaching

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When we ‘see’ a landscape, we situate ourselves in it. If we ‘saw’ the art of the past, we would situate ourselves in history. When we are prevented from seeing it, we are being deprived of the history which belongs to us. Who benefits from this deprivation? In the end, the art of the past is being mystified because a privileged minority is striving to invent a history which can retrospectively justify the role of the ruling classes, and such a justification can no longer make sense in modern terms. And so, inevitably, it mystifies.

I have just started reading John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. What we hear in it, across it, is a certain brand of optimism that seems impossible to imagine, to inhabit, today. What a "we" here, what a confidence about what makes sense, and doesn’t, "in modern terms."

We are so very much closer to the way of seeing or thinking that is preserved and carried over in Benjamin’s theses than Berger’s book. We know what it’s like to feel the wind on our faces of the "storm blowing from Paradise," the "storm… we call Progress." We are closer, somehow, to 1940 than we are to 1972.

We know what it feels like to have our wings pinned back. What it feels like to have our eyes opened is a different matter altogether.

I am going to read Ways of Seeing as a guide to Ways of Teaching, and perhaps see what I can do with the lessons I’ve learned in the fall.

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 4, 2005 at 1:12 am

Posted in Books

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